2022 First-Year Engineering Experience

Redesigning an Introduction to Engineering Course as an Interdisciplinary Project-Based Course

Presented at Technical Session M5C

All first-year engineering students at Bucknell University are introduced to Engineering through a first-semester, required course taught by faculty members representing six departments and ten degree programs. In 2021, this cornerstone course was re-envisioned with modern and emerging pedagogical approaches and greater consistency across course sections. The new version also focuses on transferable skills for all curricula and programs within the College. The course was redesigned to focus on learning and applying the engineering design process through a variety of projects with a common theme of sustainability. While the engineering design process is key, the redesign integrated concepts and activities to address teamwork, written and oral communication, information literacy, engineering ethics, local and global sustainability, and inclusion into the projects. The redesigned course enables each student to apply the engineering design process to two projects with different teams and different engineering instructors over the fourteen week semester. While each instructor has academic freedom to deliver their section in their own style, consistency across all sections and instructors was improved through common learning objectives and storyboards, which provided sample classroom activities and points of discussion. Consistency across each project was achieved through three common benchmark assignments and a culminating Design Expo. This paper describes the redesign process and the intentions behind the redesign itself, the common theme of sustainability integrated through all projects, and the scaffolding structure that was established across all sections. The challenges and opportunities that arose in the first iteration of the redesign course are highlighted along with the next phase of continuous improvement.

  1. Dr. Kelly Salyards P.E. Bucknell University [biography]
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